The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has partnered with Dahabshiil, the largest international money transfer company in Africa, to host the first ever Somali community event in Kenya.

the event, themed ‘now i know’, saw high profile kenyan and somali artists and musicians celebrate stories of the somali diaspora living in kenya. the aim was to promote somali culture and to educate other communities about the struggles and triumphs of somali immigrants in kenya. roberta russo, public information officer at unhcr somalia, said: […]

the event, themed ‘now i know’, saw high profile kenyan and somali artists and musicians celebrate stories of the somali diaspora living in kenya. the aim was to promote somali culture and to educate other communities about the struggles and triumphs of somali immigrants in kenya.

roberta russo, public information officer at unhcr somalia, said: “we hope this marks the beginning of a new era of interaction and dialogue between the kenyan and somali communities, which have been living side by side for decades.

“we have chosen the theme, ‘now i know’, as we want to give kenyans a better understanding of the lives of somalis and the events which have led to their arrival here in kenya. it is important for effective integration that the kenyan community understands why somali migrants are here, how they feel about living in kenya, and that they didn’t necessarily have a choice.”

more than 3,000 people attended the event at eastleigh high school in nairobi on 16 april 2011. contributing to the celebrations were leading kenyan and somali acts including kenyan singer-songwriter erick wainaina, kenyan genge artist jua kali, somali singer waayaha cusub, kenyan comedian eric omondi, and somalilander poet muhammad ibrahim warsame hadraawi.

abdirashid duale, ceo of dahabshiil, said: “dahabshiil is delighted to be involved with this event, the first of its kind in kenya and one which we hope will encourage greater understanding and collaboration between the kenyan and somali communities. we will remain committed wherever possible to supporting such initiatives to promote the integration of migrant communities.”

speaking at the event was daud aweys, a bbc somalia analyst, who discussed the issues facing somalis in kenya. he stressed the need for interchange and cooperation between the two communities and congratulated dahabshiil and the organisers for making the occasion possible.

dahabshiil has had a long-standing tradition of contributing to the communities in which it operates. it dedicates 10% of its profits to humanitarian and community regeneration projects across the 126 countries in which it operates.

in east and central africa, dahabshiil is one of the top private investors in hospitals and health centres – helping to develop infrastructure and provide financial support, equipment and medicines.

in the horn of africa, dahabshiil has made an important contribution to ongoing relief work, making donations and assisting the management and distribution of funds for humanitarian and development organisations that work with communities affected by conflict, drought and famine. some 95% of international organisations operating in the region, including the un, world health organisation, world bank, oxfam, save the children and care international rely on dahabshiil to transfer funds.

abdirashid duale added: “remittances are an essential lifeline for many communities across east africa which depend on dahabshiil to receive income from abroad and to facilitate much-needed private investment. the flow of remittances into the region has played a crucial role in the growth of the telecoms, transport and housing sectors, as well as in improving basic infrastructure, healthcare and education.”

founded in 1970 in somaliland as a general trading enterprise, dahabshiil has grown to become africa’s largest money transfer operator. it has invested heavily in expanding its network of pay-out locations, as a result of which the inhabitants of some of the horn of africa’s most remote locations have regular access to funding from overseas.

despite its international success dahabshiil has remained committed to a policy of low commissions, charging fees significantly lower than other international providers and enabling migrants to send funds regularly and cost-effectively, regardless of their whereabouts or the size of the sums transferred.